Survivor's Stories

Below are selected images and narratives from an art therapy exercise entitled “The River of Life”. This work was produced by a Cambodian woman during an art therapy group exercise. During this exercise she finally broke her silence. Her story is a powerful testimony to the creative arts therapy process and demonstrates clearly how art was used to release her pain and fortify her strength of spirit.


My Story

“I come from a poor, violent family. My father used to beat me. My mother sold me to a brothel when I was 13 years old. I was locked in a small dark room until I served my first customer. I was rescued by a customer of mine who "felt sorry" for me. He took me to the trafficking rescue center and I have been there for 2 years now. I do not know where my parents are and I have no (other) place to go. I hope one day to be a successful tailor and also to find my family.”


A Survivor's Story


Artwork: A Survivor's Story


Image 1

“This is an eye that is crying. In the eye is my father beating me. The title of the picture is: "The day that I was very sad." The words that describe the image in the eye reads: "My father is hitting me."

There are 3 images: my father hitting me and my body on the floor, unconscious. I come from a violent, abusive family”.

Artwork: A Survivor's Story


Image 2


“My mother, the left figure in the picture, is grabbing me by the hand and selling me to the brothel owner. On the right is my father, holding the money that he received for selling me”.

Artwork: A Survivor's Story


Image 3


“This image is a representation of the black room that I was locked in when I was sold to the brothel. It was small and dark and I was not allowed to leave. I was locked in this room until my virginity was sold”.

Artwork: A Survivor's Story


Image 4


“This is an image symbolizing my unhappiness and sorrow at being trafficked and sold into prostitution. After my parents sold me to the brothel, I felt disowned and very alone. I felt that my parents had abandoned me and that I had nowhere to go. I was sold when I was very young, and I do not remember where my parents live. I was rescued by a customer of mine that had compassion for me. He brought me to the rescue center and I have been there since”.

Artwork: A Survivor's Story


Image 5


“This is an image of me standing outside my dream shop. One day I would like to set up my own sewing shop so that I can earn a decent living”.